November 26, 2004

Prayer Request Update

In an earlier post, I requested prayer for my dad. For all of you who have mentioned him in your prayers, thank you. I'm now afraid that the answer we wanted will be denied to us. We came out on Sunday to see him and enjoyed three days with him, but on Wednesday night he suffered a heart attack and lost conciousness and is currently in a coma and in hospice care.

God, grant me Your grace to love You all the more for all that my Dad has ever taught me, and may I live my life according to all the lessons he taught me of You. God, I'd have loved to see him live several more years, to see Rebecca grow up, so she would remember him, but God, I commit him, and all my ties to him, to You. Your judgments are true and righteous altogether. Thank you, God, for a wonderful Dad. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Update: Dad passed away this morning (Sunday) about 3am. I'll write a post about him soon, but in the meantime, this blog will be quiet until we return home later this week.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:09 PM | Comments (7)

November 18, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

Amy, Rebecca, and I are traveling down to my hometown, Hereford, Texas, for Thanksgiving, and we're leaving this weekend so we don't have to face the stress of heavy holiday traffic with Rebecca in tow. The rest of this week will be spent getting ready, so I'm going to stop blogging now, unless some huge important thing happens. Since this blog is co-authored however, there may be posts submitted by Rick or Ann.

Happy Thanksgiving!

You visit the earth and water it,
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.
You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
They drop on the pastures of the wilderness,
And the little hills rejoice on every side.
The pastures are clothed with flocks;
The valleys also are covered with grain;
They shout for joy, they also sing.
Psalm 65:9-13 NKJV
Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

Skipping ahead

I'm going to skip some summer pictures, so that the latest pictures can be put up for family & friends who haven't seen the latest. After blogging resumes after Thanksgiving, I'll post some of the summer pictures when I have a bit more time to sort them out. Moving on to fall and Halloween, here are Rebecca's latest pictures. Since they're right next to the February pictures, you can see she's grown a bit in the last ten months.

(Click following link to view pictures)

Jack-O-Lantern_1.jpg

Jack-O-Lantern_2.jpg

Jack-O-Lantern_3.jpg

Leaves.jpg

Winnie-the-Pooh.jpg

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

Coming Home

Finally, the day to come home arrives! After navigating a maze of paperwork at the airport, most of which is SARS-related, we get on the plane for the trip home, and what a long flight it is! But though the flight is long, we still arrive in Los Angeles one hour before we left, due to the International Date Line and the time zone change. We have to go through Customs so our baggage has to be re-checked, and I make a big mistake here - I take our baggage to the next airline counter, and the ticket agent says "Why didn't you just recheck it at customs?" Duh! That was what all those people were doing. Chalk one up for inexperience. Even though the baggage barely makes it through security in time for the next flight, it still gets home when we do.

Getting Rebecca's citizenship is easy. All we had to do was hand the Customs officer her immigration packet, then they stamped an "IR-3" in her Chinese passport, and SHE'S AN AMERICAN CITIZEN! Yea! Since Amy and I both traveled to China and participated in her adoption, she automatically became a citizen when she came to America with us. We got a Cerificate of Citizenship from the Department of Homeland Security about six weeks later, with President Bush's signature on it.

Click the following link to see some pictures taken in her first month home.

When Rebecca first came home, she just sat. No crawling - it's a cultural thing, but in China, babies are not encouraged to crawl. They're just set somewhere (like in the pictures we got in our referral). We encouraged her to start learning by leaving toys about four to five feet away from her, and helping her to move her legs to get around. Of course, I had to crawl too. After about a month, she was crawling around slowly and awkwardly.
HavingFun_2.jpg

Spoons? We don't use spoons!
NoSpoons_2.jpg

Bath, Bed & Beyond (my favorite picture)
FatherAndChild_2.jpg

Learning to walk
DeadEnd_2.jpg

I CAN WALK!
This was in March - she took her first steps early that month
RebeccaWalking.jpg

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

Guangzhou

After a week in Nanchang, we flew down to Guangzhou to take care of immigration issues, such as a medical examination, taking another vow at the US Consulate, and verifying Rebecca's identity. They are very strict with respect to that - they don't allow babies to get mixed up, and you can't adopt a baby from an orphanage without an official document saying that her parents are not known. They are very strict about child trafficking.

The weather was very nice, about 45-50 degrees (F) for the few days we were there, and the officer at the US Consulate said that it would likely be the coldest day of the year.

Travel tip: if you go to a "Western" restaurant to get a hamburger (after you want some relief from Chinese food) - do NOT ask them to put mustard on it!

And speaking of food, the White Swan had an excellent buffet provided for all the families adopting, and was it ever crowded with parents, babies, and strollers everywhere. Someone joked that the hotel should be called the White Stork. The hotel had a playroom and lots of perks for us, and we met people from all over the world there.

Here are some shots from the White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou.
(Click following link to see pictures.)

Rebecca loves the White Swan hotel! (I love this picture but wish it had come out better - actually Amy snapped a good shot on her camera which we only have as a print)
ILoveTheWhiteSwan.jpg

Fish - and there were real goldfish in the water below - real big ones! This was next to the hotel's restaurant and buffet area. Rebecca loved to sit at a table next to the water and watch them swim around.
Fish.jpg

Year of the Monkey - two shots, Day & Night
Monkey_Day.jpg

Monkey_Night.jpg

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

November 17, 2004

Adoption Day, continued

After giving Rebecca her first meal (which she threw up), we had to go back to the CCAA office to accomplish some legal matters, and the rest of the day was spent being interviewed, signing papers, and taking oaths.

The rest of the week was occupied with shopping, visits to the Tang Wen pavilion (most of the pictures are not in uploadable format - we'll have to work on that), a visit to a local school, and of course, getting a passport.

Here's some pictures from Nanchang. Pictures from Guangzhou, our final destination, will be posted tomorrow.

Sign here, please

Mmmm!

Are these pandas safe? They're a lot safer than you are!

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2004

Adoption Day

We flew out of Beijing the evening of January 4, real late - the flight was delayed, a very long delay. The flight was supposed to leave around 6pm, and we got to the airport real early - we didn't want any complications. I think we got there around 3pm. The flight wound up not leaving until after 10pm. That was a long wait, so all we could do was read our English books or watch Chinese TV (there was a cute dairy commercial with a bunch of singing cows and a little girl saying something real cute in Chinese - I think we saw it more than a hundred times). When we were en route to Nanchang, I was struck by how dark the countryside was, even as we approached Nanchang. I think we arrived about 1am. Our adoption agency had a representative there to meet us (you'll see her picture in the following pictures), and the second thing she said to us after "hello" was "paperwork!" Yes, we had to turn in some paperwork right then and there so she could have it ready for the morning.

We were put in a van and drove to the hotel, about an hours drive. Got to our rooms, and told to be ready at 9am, we would travel to the CCAA to pick up our little ones. We find out the beds are hard as boards, the floor is literally (and I do mean literally) softer than the bed. The room has twin beds, a baby bath, a stroller, and a crib. Very well equipped for our mission. We go to bed, and I can't sleep, thinking about the adoption (I also got no sleep the night before we got married - very similar to how I felt this night).

We go to the JiangXi office of the CCAA (this very office was featured in a National Geographic special China's Lost Girls earlier this year), and find out the orphanage personnel are caught in traffic and can't get there for a long time. We go back to the hotel, and are told to wait in our rooms - we'll be called when the babies arrive. So finally, I get a little bit of sleep, and about 2pm, our phone rings!

Click 'Continue reading...' below to see what little Fu Dong Lan thought of us (the Chinese lady next to Amy was the woman representing our adoption agency)

JR.jpg

AR.jpg

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004

Our Trip to China, continued

So, here we are in Beijing on New Year's Day, about 6pm (5am back home). We get in a taxi (oops, we get suckered in by a free-lance taxi, not one of the state-operated ones, can't say we weren't warned by our American friend - and we pay a bit more than we would have otherwise, oh well, what's 350 Yuan anyway?)

We stay at a Holiday Inn in downtown Beijing. We note there's a McDonald's nearby for future reference, then go to a Chinese restaurant in our hotel and order something completely different than anything we've seen in the US. We call it an early night since we want to get used to the local time as soon as possible. The room is actually pretty nice. Lots of bottled water everywhere, a standard bathroom with a western toilet (yea - no squatting toilet .. yet) and a shower. The only thing "weird" about the room, besides the voltage, is the fact that you have to leave your magnetic room key card inside a switch by the door or else the lights go out - obviously for saving energy. When you leave, the lights go out.

We're in Beijing from Jan 1 to Jan 4 for a few days to ourselves. We make some touring plans the next morning. Jan 2: Ming Tombs and the Great Wall (Jan 2 is Rebecca's birthday by the way, so that's what we were doing when she turned one year old); Jan 3: The Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven; Jan 4: The Hutong, and then a flight to our next destination, Nanchang, where we would be adopting a one-year-old girl named Fu Dong Lan.

Pictures:
Amy on the Great Wall

On and on and on...

The Temple of Heaven

In the Forbidden City

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2004

The Trip - Flying to China

We were originally scheduled to travel to China in December 2003, on a 10-day trip returning before Christmas (the US State Department discourages Americans from traveling to China between Christmas and New Year's Day). Due to some difficulties with financing, and wanting to spend a few extra days in Beijing, we elected to go with a smaller group in January. We found out later that a smaller group meant much smaller, two families.

We flew out of Philadelphia on December 31, 2003, about 9:00 am, flew to Los Angeles, where we made a quick connection, and arrived in Beijing on January 1, 2004, having no idea where we were when they year turned over, or even if it had since we had crossed the International Date Line. One complication in the flight turned into an insignificant worry. We were told when we arrived at the gate that the plane was overbooked, and we might not get on the flight. Immediate reaction was "they can't do this to us! this is an important trip" - and then I realized that it was just as important to everyone else on that plane too. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom down the hall, and used that time as an opportunity to do a discrete prayer vigil. "God, please get us there on time". Immediately, in my "mind's ear", I heard a response which was almost as clear as if I heard it from another person: "everything's taken care of - don't worry about your trip, don't worry about the adoption. Your trip will be successful". The strength of what I heard surprised me. I returned to the waiting area where I told Amy of my yet-to-be answered prayer, and we waited. They called all the rows. We were still waiting. They shut the doors to the jetway. Again still waiting. There are a lot of people bumped from this flight, us among them. We wait a long time, but the plane is not leaving. Suddenly they call our name, open the doors, and tell us, "hurry - get on, you've got a seat" I think there were just about four people let on after they reopened the doors.

We made our connection in Los Angeles on time, though it was a little stressful in that we had to move fast to get our next boarding pass and to another terminal in time. We made it just prior to boarding. No problems with overbooking this time. We were overcome with the size of the plane, it was huge! And almost all the people on board the plane were Chinese, and many of them spoke little or no English. We were fortunate to be seated behind an American woman, her Chinese husband, and two children, who were returning to their home in Beijing after visiting her family here in America for Christmas.

The flight was very long, it seemed like it took forever (actually we were in the air for twelve hours - and the time from arriving at the Philadelphia to arriving at the Beijing airport was 24 hours). We arrived in Beijing on January 1, 6pm, local time. One thing interesting about China: it has only one time zone, even though the country is wide enough to accomodate about four of them. Anyone living way out west in China has a very late sunrise and sunset, about the equivalent of someone living in California having their clock set to the Eastern time zone.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:08 PM | Comments (0)

The Adoption Process

Why did we adopt? Basically we did it because we had trouble with the most direct way of starting a family, natural childbirth. We discussed it over the years, seven of which were outside the church, where we basically dismissed it, followed by two after we made confessions of faith, joined a Christian church, and were then exposed to adoption programs. We considered domestic adoptions (we considered the legal risks too high), European adoptions (too stringent travel rules, and not pursued for other reasons personal to us), and international. We decided on China because it was the most stable program for international adoptions from a legal point of view, and didn't want to have the rules changed on us while we were going through the waiting process.

We sent in our adoptiion application on August 12, 2002, and began a program of Home Studies, background investigations, autobiography writing, and waiting. The following March (2003) we were informed that our packet had been sent to China and we would be over there in about a year. In the meantime, my mom had fallen upon bad health, and we found out later that she would not live to see her newest granddaughter. Mom passed away less than one week after Easter.

Over the summer, there was a little crisis. The SARS crisis hit, and travel to China was halted for a short period of time. For some reason, it didn't bother me. I was expecting to be traveling in March or April 2004 anyway so I didn't think it would affect us. It affected others however, and we were meeting them, as we had joined an organization called Families of Children from China (FCC). Through FCC and our adoption agency, we found out that the Chinese authorities were not happy with the interruption of the adoption program, and they made serious changes to their procedures to speed up the process. As a result, we were told informally that we would be traveling sooner than we thought.

On the date that would have been my Mom's birthday, November 17, we got a picture from our adoption agency that had Rebecca's picture attached, the first picture we had ever seen of her. Her name then was Fu Dong Lan. I've often wondered if receiving that picture on my mom's birthday was my mom's way of saying "I'm sorry I couldn't be there, but I'm happy for you, and I asked God to send you your daughter's picture on my birthday so you know".

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. While the emphasis of this adoption awareness program is to encourage the adoption of children in foster care, Amy and I are aware of it for another reason; we are parents of a one-year-old girl from China. I'm going to dedicate the blog this week to our adoption, and will likely shut the blog down next week (except Rick and Ann are free to post if they wish) while we travel to Hereford, Texas, where I grew up, for Thanksgiving. I'm thinking of something special to do for Advent blogging when I return on November 27.

In the meantime, all blog entries for the following week are about our family: the Fuhrmanns; Amy (mom), Joel (dad), and Rebecca (the royal daughter).

To start off, here are some entries I blogged from Nanchang, China, while waiting for our plane to Guangzhou to take care of immigration details at the US Consulate:

Amy and Rebecca in a hotel room in Nanchang.

Joel and Rebecca in the Tang Wen pavilion in Nanchang.

All three of us, in royal garb, for a tourist-type shot, also in the Tang Wen pavilion: The Royal Daughter is All Glorious Within the Palace.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:24 PM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2004

It's the Exurbs -- Stupid!

How did President Bush find so many votes out there in “the sticks”?

How is it that the Democratic Party and the prognosticators of the mainstream media “missed” all those people in the Red States -- in “nowhere country”?

Well, if you want a clear view of what happened, consider this demographic reality: for some time, now, the nation’s cities have been bleeding out middle-class people -- fleeing the urban life in droves.

They had to go somewhere.

They went out to those “country” spaces that have been filling up with massive, spread-out, newly built semi-towns -- both residential and work areas -- called “exurbias” (“extended suburbs”).

The people going there are mostly young, with children; they're often upwardly-mobile, sometimes entrepreneurs, and are looking to own their own homes and join giant mega-churches and find space and safety in a new life: but with the values-atmosphere that supports them rather than undermines them (as the big cities did). There are more of these people than the nation’s cultural elite ever suspected.

The political fallout has been explosive.

David Brooks anticipated the phenomena in a book (that I highly recommend) published just before the election: On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense [New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004].

He discussed this in his 11/9/04 column in the New York Times -- “Take a Ride to Exurbia” (site needs registration), where he said:

“My book started with Witold Rybczynski's observation that America's population is decentralizing faster than any other society's in history. People in established suburbs are moving out to vast sprawling exurbs that have broken free of the gravitational pull of the cities and now exist in their own world far beyond.

“Ninety percent of the office space built in America in the 1990's was built in suburbia, usually in low office parks along the interstates. Now you have a tribe of people who not only don't work in cities, they don't commute to cities or go to the movies in cities or have any contact with urban life. You have these huge, sprawling communities with no center. Mesa, Ariz., for example, has more people than St. Louis or Minneapolis….

“I was about to give a reading in Berkeley when I asked a few of the bookstore employees if they sold many copies of Rick Warren's book, ‘The Purpose-Driven Life.’ They weren't familiar with the book, even though it has sold millions and millions of copies. I realized there are two conversations in this country. I was in the establishment conversation, but somehow I needed to get into the Rick Warren conversation….

“That's why I'm so impressed by Karl Rove. As a group of Times reporters demonstrated in Sunday's paper, the Republicans achieved huge turnout gains in exurbs like the ones in central Florida. The Republicans permeated those communities, and spread their message.”

Joel Kotkin has written an excellent piece -- “Democrats out of touch with America” in the 11/7/04 Arizona Republic -- available on his website that points out:

“Much of the story can be seen in three sets of statistics -- demographic, economic and finally political. Wherever there has been strong economic and demographic growth, generally speaking, the Republican tide flowed. Where job and population increases have been weak, the Democrats scored big….The economic and demographic fault lines in California and elsewhere do not favor the Democrats in their current configuration.”

Here are some extended quotes from Kotkin’s article:

“Even in California, which went for Kerry but not as overwhelmingly as might have been expected, the political fault-lines followed these same patterns. Kerry piled up huge majorities in the San Francisco Bay area, which has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and has experienced strong net out-migration since 2000. Bush won handily in Riverside-San Bernardino and the Central Valley, winning upward of three-fifths the vote in the emergent ‘Third California’ that is experiencing the bulk of the Golden State's population and job growth.

“These inland areas are where Arnold Schwarzenegger won his election during the recall and where, by 2008, a Republican like a John McCain or Rudy Giuliani could sweep the nation's most populous state back to the GOP. If that happens, the Democratic Party as we know it will be all but moribund….

“Like Boston, many Democratic strongholds -- Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Chicago -- all lost population since 2000. Some of these cities had much ballyhooed revivals during the late 1990s with often highly celebrated, but statistically tiny, increases in downtown lofts, arts venues and other measurements of urban ‘hipness.’ But viewed from a regional perspective, these regions continued to lose both jobs and middle-class families to the periphery.

“In contrast, the sprawling metro areas -- from Atlanta to Phoenix and California's Inland Empire -- have continued to gain both population and jobs. The Southeast, for example, now stands as the home to more large corporate headquarters than any region, confirming a shift in economic fortunes from the urban boutiques of the Northeast and the Pacific Coast.

“The Democrats increasingly have identified themselves ever more with stagnant or shrinking urban centers. The most overwhelmingly Democratic cities, like Seattle, Boston or San Francisco, are also the cities with the lowest percentages of children. This allows them to take their signals on social issues such as gay marriage from the reigning hip-ocracy, often alienating voters with children.

“In contrast, many GOP strongholds, particularly outer-ring suburbs and exurbs like San Bernardino Riverside, have been becoming favored grounds for raising families. These voters represent roughly two out of five voters, and far outweigh the population of gays or young singles. Concentrated in the suburbs, these voters went more for Bush this year than in 2000.

“Overall, Democrats increasingly seem clueless in finding ways to appeal to people with children or those seeking a new life in an affordable place. Instead they often ask suburbanites to subsidize trendy downtown development and attack their way of life as anti-environmental ‘sprawl.’ Suburbanites on the periphery are accorded little honor among Democrats; not surprisingly, they were not well-rewarded for their attitudes….

“Nor, finally, did the Democratic economic message resonate as well with people in the suburban hinterland. The attack on the ‘rich’ -- odd enough from a man married to a billionairess who pays a smaller share of her income in taxes than the average housepainter -- were rightly interpreted by many small-business people as an attack on either their current income, or on where they hoped to be in a few years.

“The Kerry economic plan was more convincing to other constituencies such as public employees, subsidized artists, downtown property speculators, public bond traders and university researchers, all of whom might well have benefited from more public spending on higher education, subsidies for cultural institutions and other favored amenities. Not surprisingly, educated people, particularly academics and others with post-graduate degrees, emerged as both Kerry's largest source of funding and his strongest political base.

“Given these realities, is there any hope -- or even a need -- for a Democratic Party? The answer is assuredly yes, but only with massive changes….At very least, the nation deserves some progressive alternative to the baldly pro-corporate policies of the Republican Party.

“This can occur only in a Democratic Party that espouses middle-class values, not elite values, that celebrates upward mobility, not celebrity. It must be a party that can communicate with middle-class people where they live and work….

“More than anything this will require a redefinition of the party's core constituency and its priorities. Today, the Democrats' true center lies with the most privileged portions of society -- Hollywood, the Wall Street municipal bond traders, the professoriate, the major media moguls. The issues that these people care most about are those that reflect their personal interests, such as keeping their neighborhoods and recreational playgrounds pristine, helping gay friends get married, sending more public funds to elite educational institutions or financing medical research for diseases and the aging process that money alone can not ward off.

“These causes, however valid, do not constitute a winning political platform. Even worse, the overwhelming elite influence has also proved pernicious, since many among them also possess an instinctive dislike for American military power, and favor a more European approach to defending America's national interests.”

Posted by Rick Penner at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004

The "Religious Left" Responds to the Election

Bill Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, details the Unitarian Universalist Association agenda, in a press conference sponsored by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Mark Tooley, UM Action Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, writes on the same press conference, describing the involvment of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society and other groups.

Diane Knippers, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, discusses what value voters really want.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:47 PM | Comments (4)

November 09, 2004

Newsboys: The Adoration Tour

For a little more than a year now, I have been listening to Christian Contemporary Music as my main musical genre. I've really grown to like it. Lately, a group called The Newsboys has grown in my affection, and I talked Amy into going to a concert last Friday night in Trenton. They were excellent! And Shine is awesome performed live! I felt like I was twenty years old again. This was the first Christian music concert I've attended since sometime around 1980 when I was just out of college and I went to an Amy Grant concert with a youth group from Crossroads Baptist Church of Northglenn CO, headed by the pastor's son, Steve Taylor. Steve Taylor, I found out today, went on to have a successful musical career himself, and produced several albums by The Newsboys! Back in 1980, I wasn't really impressed with Christian music. As I remember it, the only Christian artist who ever performed outside a church sanctuary was Amy Grant. Now it's different. Many more artists, and the music is much better now. The concert I saw last Friday was better than any of the rock concerts I attended back in the 70's or 80's.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:27 PM | Comments (1)

A John 6 moment

I've waited to post this, it sounds crazy, but I had a moment last Friday that really amazed me, and I've just been letting it settle down before posting it.

I spent my lunch hour at Washington Crossing State Park, where I often take a brown bag lunch and my Bible and do whatever reading I didn't get to do in the morning whenever Rebecca decides to wake up early and I have to forego my morning Bible reading time.

When starting my drive back to the office, I looked at the gas gauge, noticed it was on "E", and immediately thought "oh, no, I forgot to fill it up this morning!" (I was running late, and had a morning meeting I couldn't be late for). Well, I prayed a quick prayer for help and started heading for the nearest gas station, several miles away, and the trip odometer, which I reset at each fillup was higher than I'd ever seen it lately. About a half mile from a gas station I knew about, I had to stop at a stop sign, and when I started up again, the car suddenly started coasting. Oh man! A one-hour or more wait for AAA out here on Jacob's Creek road. Out of desperation I said out loud "God help me!" Just as I uttered that, the car roared back to life again! Awesome! And I made it to the gas station. Someone I told this story to suggested that maybe some gas was sloshing around in the gas tank, and maybe they are right, but I also think God was looking out for me. Call upon Me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me. (Psalm 50) Glory to God!

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:49 PM | Comments (6)

November 07, 2004

A Letter of Repentance from The Rev. William Melnyk

Credit where credit is due department: From a letter received by the Institute for Religion and Democracy from The Reverend William Melnyk, who "had been involved in work with Druid organizations."

"I was wrong. I repent of and recant without qualification anything and everything I may have said or done which is found to be in conflict with the Baptismal Covenant, and the historical Creeds of the Church."

God bless you, Reverend Melnyk.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Psalm 51:12-13 NKJV

UPDATE: Just read today, Tuesday, that the Reverend Melnyk and his wife, also a member of the Episcopal clergy, have resigned. I am sorry to hear this report.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

November 06, 2004

Post-Election Links

What the Evangelicals Want, by James Jewell The Rooftop Blog. (Hat Tip: James Jewell himself, via email, thank you!)

To My Fellow Democrats, by Andrew, The Backseat Philosopher, a new blog. (Hat Tip: Mark Shea)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 04:02 PM | Comments (3)

November 04, 2004

Post-Election comments - Finally!

I voted Tuesday around 6:30 am, had to wait in the longest line I ever faced here in East Windsor NJ (about four people). Then went on to work and called Amy and invited her to come over for lunch, and we would all go, Amy, Rebecca (the royal daughter), and me, to Washington Crossing State Park. Beautiful day. Rebecca seems to love the fall, and I really enjoyed the playtime, especially since that was the last light of day I would see, for I was doing some benchmark testing in our computer lab as soon as I got back to work, and I would be there till after 9pm. It was a busy afternoon, and the testing took a long time. After 5:00 pm, with the second half of the testing about to commence, I holed myself up in the lab and started watching election results. Lots of thoughts to blog about, but I can't multitask too well, and wanted to get out of there before 10, so I just didn't bother. These are my first thoughts to write down.

So, what do I think? I'm glad for the results, but I don't see them as a reason to gloat, just as I think it would be wise for the left to refrain from making silly excuses or making fearful predictions of doom. I've held off on commenting for three reasons mainly: 1) I can't write fast enough to cover the election as well as others can, 2) I've been real busy at work, as noted above, and 3) I just wanted to digest it all so I don't put my foot in my mouth.

I think the values-based voting was a real factor this year, but not the only one. When the Unitarian Universalists and other religious progressives started their Faithful Democracy project, the whole concept of voting one's values was vindicated, what religious conservatives have been doing for years. Did the kickoff of this project imply that the "religious left" weren't voting their values in the past? That's hard for me to believe. Of course they were voting their values; all that project did was to vindicate the position of those who said all along that it was proper and right to do so.

What would I like to see as a result of this election? Based on the Senate results, and Tom Daschle's defeat, I would love to see an immediate renomination of every judicial nominee subjected to the Filibuster. In my opinion, this was the gravest injustice committed by the Democrats' minority in the Senate. I called Senator Frist's office today to urge him to stop the chairmanship of Arlen Specter to the Judicial Committee, and urge everyone concerned about judicial integrity to do so as well.

There are many other things I'd love to see, making the tax cuts permanent, killing the inheritance tax, making true school choice available, a Federal Marriage Amendment. And speaking of that Marriage Amendment, I'm glad that people are speaking up and saying they don't want the courts to decide this issue for them, and I agree with the thoughts expressed by Rush Limbaugh, quoted in a post below by Rick Penner, who said that the push to decide this issue in the courts would inevitably end up in a backlash.

For the Democrats, I think Nancy Pelosi should lose her job as the House Minority leader. Her strategy of taking the party left after the 2002 elections was clearly a mistake. I'd like to see the Democrats drop their class-warfare rhetoric. I wish the Democrats would also reconsider their fanaticism for abortion. I was a Democrat once, was even on the pro-choice bandwagon, but their vitriol for anyone who expressed a pro-life viewpoint drove me away (and this came from people who "worship" tolerance). I actually converted to the pro-life worldview before becoming a Christian. This issue is not a mere "article of faith".

That's all I want to say for now, but here's some links to others whose opinions I respect:
Joshua Claybourn credits the "culture war".
Joe Carter The Evangelical Outpost credits moral issues, such as embryonic stem cell research, abortion, and same-sex marriage.
Susan b. Lilac Rose talks about her two issues: security and social issues, claiming both as reasons for voting for Bush.
La Shawn Barber urges the President to be strong, lead boldly, and ignore those who tell him to compromise.
Larry Kudlow credits the evangelical vote.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:16 PM | Comments (8)

November 03, 2004

Election: “Moral” Values Trump Materialism

The results of the election have apparently baffled liberals: they're shocked and “disturbed” that values could be more important to many Americans than economic conditions.

I’ve written about this here, before, but I’ll repeat: a highly prophetic book that came out just before the 2000 election has a great deal to say on this: book entitled The Fourth Great Awakening & the Future of Egalitarianism by Robert William Fogel.

Fogel is an economist and a moderate liberal (who won the 1993 Nobel Prize in economics). He said that there have been four “Great Awakenings” in American history; that is, spiritual/political eras of reform that have influenced American history.

The first Great Awakening of 1730 founded the ideology for the American Revolution; the second started in 1800 and helped introduce reforms such as the abolition of slavery; the third from 1890 to 1930 attacked social injustice and created the welfare state. The fourth is occurring now: it began in the late 1950’s and will continue for a few more decades.

Fogel believes egalitarianism is the defining philosophy of all these Awakenings (he is, after all, a liberal). And the third awakening was largely a reform of economic conditions: a revolt against class divisions and the oppression of the poor by the new capitalist industrialism. This stage spawned the Progressivism of the early part of the 20th century and the New Deal of FDR.

But he sees the last Awakening as a shift from the push for egalitarianism of material needs during the 3rd Awakening to a yearning for egalitarianism of spiritual needs (also called “immaterial” needs or “knowledge capital”).

He says that the new equity issues of the 4th Awakening -- unlike the 3rd Awakening -- “do not arise from the shock of rapid urbanization, the destruction of small businesses by competition from industrial giants, the massive destitution created by the prolonged unemployment of up to one-quarter of prime-age workers, the disappearance of the frontier as a safety valve for urban unemployment and poverty.”

Rather, people now want to “have an understanding of life’s opportunities, a sense of which opportunities are most attractive to him or her at each stage of life, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities.”

Here’s what Fogel means by “spiritual” needs:

“Spiritual resources are not limited to those found in the sacred realm but include the whole range of immaterial commodities that are needed to cope with emotional trauma and that, more often than not, are transferred between individuals privately, rather than through the market. Such resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.” [Emphasis added]

Surprisingly: “Like it or not, the reform agenda spelled out by the religious Right, with its focus on the restoration of the traditional family and its emphasis on equality of opportunity, more fully addresses the new issues of egalitarianism than does the agenda of the Third Great Awakening.”

Fogel goes on to say that Republicans and conservatives will probably benefit the most from this 4th Awakening -- such that Republicans will predominate over the next decade or two.

This means that John Kerry's tiredness – and the whole panoply of anti-authoritarian purposeless rebellions that promote sloppiness, shallowness, and cynicism in daily life; and the Democratic harping on class warfare, racial division, and the need for the encouragement of dependency needs -- are going against the grain of the new Awakening.

People really WANT purposeful and self-reliant lives. It’s a winning platform!

Something for conservatives to feel hopeful about.

Posted by Rick Penner at 10:56 PM | Comments (1)

Good ‘ole Rush Limbaugh said something interesting on the morning after the election --

as to WHY the Democrats lost. Speaking of the Kerry supporters among the Baby-Boom Generation, he said (from his web-site):

“They didn't want the discomfort of going to war but they also saw an opportunity. Here's another war they disagreed with, ‘America caused it; America is wrong. Our youth was well spent!’ It is because of idle time and prosperity that they have the time to devote their self-thoughts to this stuff, and they became obsessed with negativism, and because of all of this, the combination of negative doom and gloom outlook on life, ‘Oh, woe is us! Oh, how hard is our life!’ coupled with the fact that they are so self-absorbed, that they don't understand having to win in the arena of ideas. They think that what they are should automatically be, and so I was telling this person [a liberal friend] last night: ‘You've got a lot of problems, not just in the baby boom generation, but liberalism in general. You have the idea in your head that because the country rejected via a popular vote what you believe in, that the country is no longer yours. Have you ever thought about fighting for what you believe in? And I don't mean the way you have, but have you ever thought about fighting it in the sense of actually persuading people to try to agree with you? The way you've gone about gay marriage has been guaranteed to defeat it. You have gone and had Supreme Court judges in Massachusetts tell legislators what laws they must pass and by when, laws that the people would not vote for themselves, laws that the people would not approve of. You had a mayor in San Francisco force illegal marriages against the law for a period of time. You think this doesn't have a backlash? This is not how things happen in this country. You think just because you want it -- baby boomers, self-absorbed, selfish generation: Whatever you wanted, you got -- just because you want it, it should be there, and when you don't get it, it's, ‘Oh, woe is us?'" [Emphasis added.]

Posted by Rick Penner at 10:38 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2004

The Religious Vote, Voting Guides and other comments

The Institute for Religion and Democracy has three informative links on their site.

Steve Rempe and Alan Wisdom critique the voting guides put out by several denominations.

Diane Knippers talks about how God isn't a Democrat or Republican, and criticizes those who use that statement to marginalize their opponents. For my part, I have never claimed that one must be a conservative to be a Christian. The original motivation for this weblog, originally called "Religious Left Watch" was to criticize those who claim the opposite, that one cannot be a Christian (or "faithful") and a conservative.

And finally, an article by Mark Tooley describing a last-minute rally for the "religious left", conducted from the National Cathedral in Washington DC.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 05:10 PM | Comments (3)